Aironne Hernaez is a health buff. It was just a matter of time before she came across kombucha or fermented fruit tea. Kombucha is known for being rich in probiotics and antioxidants and is even said to help prevent heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Naturally, she wanted it to be one of her staple health drinks. But just like any wonder product out there, kombucha can be a bit pricey. It can go from P180 to P295 per bottle. That’s when Aironne thought of making her own Diwa Brew.
“I was already working as a full-time marketing manager at a lifestyle mall when Diwa Brew started. It was just me and my then-partner who ran Diwa Brew for the first two years of operation,” said Aironne.
That meant picking up the bottles from their supplier, cleaning and sanitizing them, selecting the fruits and herbs that would go into the blend, delivering the bottles kombucha to their partners, and even manning the pop-up stores.
It wasn’t really intended to become a business. She just really wanted to afford drinking kombucha. But her friends and family knew how strongly she believed in sharing the benefits of this wonder fermented tea.
“I started making Diwa Brew rooted on the idea it could make our lives so much better. I want to be a catalyst for change by creating a conscious, balanced, and compassionate life,” said Aironne. “I’m basically doing this as a contribution to the vegan community here in the Philippines. I want to offer quality fermented foods.”
Aironne knew that diving into a business, even though it’s just part-time, would be a challenge. But her passion for brewing kombucha helped her pull through. It might seem like an impossible task when she also has a full-time job but she has some tried and tested tips that any aspiring entrepreneur can glean from.
Starting a business takes effort, Aironne knew that. But she’s also passionate about her marketing job so quitting is also out of the question. So, how does she do it?
Aironne’s office is close to her home so she only has to spend 30 minutes on the road. Since she doesn’t waste a lot of time and energy traveling, she’s able to work on Diwa Brew before and after office hours.
So, if you’re planning to embark on this journey, see how you can make your circumstances work for you. It might require you to move to a different place or change jobs, it depends on how much sacrifice you’re willing to make to get your business off the ground.
If you, unfortunately, live far from your office, you can still make this scenario work for you.
One of the ways Aironne makes time for Diwa Brew is by using her traveling time and lunch breaks to work on simple tasks like pasting the stickers on the kombucha bottles. So if you have an hour of commute time to kill, see what kinds of things you can do to keep your business productive.
Aironne’s job only allows her to pop-up every other weekend. So, she partnered with physical stores like The Vegan Grocer, Indulge Pizzeria, Cosmic, and Real Food. That way, she only has to take care of producing kombucha in her own time and let her partners do the selling.
But this also means that you have to be ready not just for a spike in demand but for the task of continually improving your product. “Production became more challenging. We introduced bottle conditioning to prolong the shelf-life of our kombuchas without the chance of over-carbonation. We started cold-pressing the fruits and herbs to maximize the flavors and health benefits,” said Aironne. “It takes more time, effort, and resources compared to the old process but this made our kombucha different and at its best quality. “
Diwa Brew is active on both Facebook and Instagram. Aironne aggressively posts promotions and even invests in sponsored posts to make sure they reach more people. She also engages with Facebook communities, especially the vegan communities who are more likely to be interested in kombucha drinks. She also makes sure to promote Diwa Brew’s partner stores in their social media pages which is a good tactic because she’s able to delegate the task of selling and fulfilling orders.
These online platforms even became more instrumental when the pandemic hit the country. Diwa Brew even saw an increase in the number and frequency of sales.
“Our partners are ordering bigger volumes and on a weekly basis. However, sourcing raw materials during the lockdown was extremely difficult but now that businesses are [somehow] back to normal, everything seems to be doing well for Diwa Brew.”
All the time, effort, and energy needed to keep a part-time business going could make you want to quit if you don’t love what you do enough. And there are times that Aironne feels that way.
“I have to be honest. There are times that I feel like I want to quit because it’s all too overwhelming for me. But I always think of the reason why I started – for the animals, the community, the Filipino people who deserve access to high-quality fermented foods,” said Aironne. “This keeps me going. You just have to keep your passion burning and enjoy the process.”
It may be a part-time business but Aironne gives Diwa Brew her full-time best. Her kombucha production has now moved from her mother’s kitchen to her own nano-brewery with bigger vessels, more room for freezers, kegerators, and refrigerators for storage. She now has a production assistant who helps her now that she’s brewing big batches of kombucha to meet the demands.
Diwa Brew is currently available in Luzon but Aironne plans to bring it to Visayas and Mindanao in the future. And as if she’s not busy enough, Aironne is also planning to put up a mini vegan grocery down south – all without quitting the marketing job she loves.
“Having a full-time job and a business is never easy but quitting is never an option, always believe in yourself,” said Aironne. “If your business is something you started out of love or passion, just keep going. We all have 24 hours a day, make the most out of it.”
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